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Man on a Mission

Man on a Mission

October 02, 2013

Last week I began discussing THE most important topic: having a Life Plan to guide you from Point A to Point B. This week is about how to become a man or woman on a mission.

Why?  Because “a man on a mission” is unstoppable.  

Here is the story of one unstoppable man…

Natan Sharansky, A Man on a Mission  

At one point, I lived around 100 yards from one of the most treasured pieces of real estate in the world: the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel. Once a short, balding man named Natan Sharansky came in tears and kissed those old stones. Why? Here is his story. 

Sharansky, a chess prodigy, became an advocate for human rights in the Soviet Union.  He dreamed of emigrating to Israel along with his wife Avital.  But when he made his first plans to leave, he was denied a visa as it was “against the law.” Even as his wife was allowed to move to Israel, he was held back. Shortly thereafter, he was jailed on false charges of spying and treason.

He pleaded with the Russian government to release him, but to no avail. Meanwhile, his wife campaigned relentlessly from Israel for his release, and she brought worldwide attention to his plight. Nothing stopped her.  As the result of her efforts, hundreds of thousands of people around the globe rallied for his freedom.

Finally, after nearly a decade of abuse and confinement, Sharansky was released and allowed to emigrate to Israel.  When he finally got there, I knew he was “a man on a mission.”  This little man was determined to bring his message to the world.  He epitomized the saying, “It’s not the size of the man in the fight, but the size of the fight in the man.”

Natan Sharansky stayed with his mission and went on to hold five ministerial positions in Israel, including Deputy Prime Minister.  

People on a Mission are Inspiring  

When I lived near the Western Wall, I would watch the people coming to visit. There were tourists from around the world, and sightseers coming to take a look.

But many people would visit the Western Wall after dreaming about it for years. They weren’t just tourists -- they were coming because of a longing and a drive. Upon arriving at the Wall, very often, they would cry.  Like Natan Sharansky, these were people who believed in something. They were fighting for something. They were people on a mission.

Watching them, I would say to myself, “I want that in my life.”  

I was inspired by Sharansky and by the many people visiting the Western Wall whom I could see from my window every day.  I knew that these people were clear -- or were getting clearer -- about where they were going.  They had a plan, a path, and a purpose in life.  I, too, wanted to be on a mission.

It Starts with the Wheel of Life*

This is an amazing tool for organizing the priorities in our lives.  It helps us look closer at what may seem like a fragmented life, and discover what is important.    

Below are the 10 points on the Wheel of Life. You can use some, or all, as a guide when setting up your own.  

  1. Family: Your spouse, your children, and other family members: Are you spending quality time with them? Are you putting aside “special times” or “date nights” with them.
  2. Learning and intellectual pursuits: Are you growing and reaching new educational goals? What new things will you be learning this year?
  3. Professional/business concerns: Do you have a positive purpose at work? What do you need to do to upgrade your work situation? How can you take responsibility for playing to your strengths and compensating for your weaknesses?
  4. Spirituality:  What do you need to do to improve your relationship with the single Higher Power? What practice might you improve?
  5. Global and community concerns: How can you make a positive impact on your community or the world? Whom do you want to help? How can you give more money, time, or resources? What will make a difference?   
  6. Personal character traits: Which character traits would you like to work on? What one trait would make a big difference in many areas of your life?
  7. Rejuvenation & recreation: What activities or interests can you spend time in that would rejuvenate you? How can you recharge and bring balance to your busy, stressful life? What is fun, relaxing, or invigorating for you?
  8. Physical health: What one thing can you do to improve  your diet? What exercise habit would you like to take on? Which physical problems or issues have you been putting off and are ready to tackle?    
  9. Finance: What do you need to do to improve your financial picture? What step might you take to budget, save, or invest? What do you need to do to improve your income or expenses?  
  10. Interpersonal relationships: Which relationships need attention? What do you need to do to improve them?

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list. I could also include domestic activities around the house, from cooking to building a new deck and you could add to your list as well. Modify the Wheel of Life to match your own life.

The Biggest Challenge you Will Have

Many people are unwilling to decide on a simple direction and focus. They want to do too many things. But if you want to succeed - limit your focus.  

Once you have your Wheel of Life, you’ll want to take a closer look and find the one or two things that would be a MAJOR upgrade to your life if you were to work on improving them. These are your areas of focus for the coming year.  It’s not about completely “fixing something,” but about improvements, large or small. This is the process of “progress, not perfection”.

For me, last year, number 5 on the  above list was the one that jumped out at me as the most significant area in which to improve. 

When I looked at global and community concerns, I saw that I needed to give back. So I focussed on using my business, marketing and leadership development skills in the non-profit world.   As a result, I decided I would work to make a difference for the leaders of non-profits by establishing an organization to help non-profit leaders. By the end of the year I had done it.  Now I’m working with some of the most meaningful non-profit leaders in and outside of America.  I formed a Mastermind group for leaders of institutions.  I also decided to dedicate 10-15% of my time to non-profits, one full day every other week. I call it my non-profit day.

Why do Most Fail?

Please, make sure this isn’t another empty New Year's resolution. It has to be real.

When I ask, "What matters most?" do you know what most people say? Family. But when they look at their lives and see how they are actually spending their time, it simply doesn’t line up. Many will awkwardly and sheepishly admit that they don’t make enough time for their families at all. 

Why the inconsistency? It’s simple. Most people don’t “calendar” their time.  They don’t commit on paper (or electronically) to doing what they have committed to do -- whether it’s being with their families or anything else that lands as a top priority.

I schedule specific times to spend with my children. Sometimes it’s a special “5 minute daily” with my littlest one or “special time” trips with my older kids.  I also put a regular “date night” with my wife on the calendar. Otherwise, like New Year's resolutions, you’ll forget to act on your intentions. I regularly review my Wheel of Life with a mentor and make sure to keep focusing on “what matters most.”

Become a Man or Woman on a Mission

It starts with:

1 - Having a Life Plan

2 - Creating Your Wheel of Life

3 – Prioritizing the most significant areas that you want to upgrade

4 – Committing to specific actions through calendaring

5 – Discovering what matters most in life

From these five steps, you will learn what drives you and find your Life Purpose.  Once you discover what that “special something” is that you are meant to do (your Life Purpose) you will then become a man or woman on a mission – and when you’re on a mission, you’re on fire.

Download the Wheel of Life  and start filling out your own. Then when you look back at your life you will feel proud that you focused on what mattered most.

Taking you from where you are to where you want to be

Jon

*Some of this material was taught to me by one of the wisest masters of personal development that I have ever met, R.A. Nivin (anivin@gmail.com).  I am fortunate and grateful that we have had regular learning sessions together for years.  He is a deep and innovative thinker in the area of finding one's Life Purpose.